Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Simpsonsisms

I don't know about anybody else but I really like the animated television series "The Simpsons". There are so many episodes that are knock-out drag-down funny. What I find interesting, though, is how many "Simpsonisms" have made it into my every day existence. Here is a short list:

The "ribwich"

What started as a one-time Krusty Burger sandwich made of a now-extinct animal has turned into a common term in our vocabulary. McDonalds doesn't have a McRib anymore, they have a ribwich. "Hey look, the ribwich is back." Even the microwave garden burger soy-based ribs are "ribwiches". It's a name only The Simpsons could come up with and actually be better than everything else.

Doh

No explanation necessary?

Mmmm. Noun.

Another "Homerism"; where he will see something delicious, close his eyes, utter a slow "mmmmmmmm" followed by the food product tempting him.

The Canyonero

Can you name the car with four-wheel-drive?
Smells like a steak and seats thirty-five!
Canyonero! Canyonero!
Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down.
It's a country-fried truck endorsed by a clown.
Canyonero! Canyonero!
Twelve yards long and two lanes wide,
sixty-five tons of American pride!
Canyonero! Canyonero!
Top of the line in utility sports!
Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts.
Canyonero! Canyonero!
She blinds everybody with her super-high beam.
She a squirrel-squishin', deer-smackin' drivin' machine!
Canyonero! Canyonero!

Any gigantic truck or massive sport utility vehicle is usually referred to as the "Canyonero" even it isn't driven by some obnoxious dimwit. If it's massive presence obstructs something essential to your driving experience like oncoming traffic, a hot chick in another car, or sunlight; then it is a "Canyonero".

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys

This line from Scottish school groundskeeper Willie when forced to substitute-teach French class is now a common slam on the French or anybody from France or a French speaking Canadian providence. "Bonjourrrrr, you cheese-eatin' surrender monkeys!" A Google search retrieves 135,000 exact hits on this topic.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wiki for the sicki

SickipediA
Building the world's best collection of sick jokes.

LASEK, month one (almost)

It is has been almost a month since I had the LASEK laser eye corrective surgery. Yesterday I went for the one month checkup and here are the results.

According to the OD, my eyes are progressing normally for this type of procedure. The right eye is now 20/40 and the left eye is 20/50. The left eye is over correcting itself which is causing some astigmatism to (re)occur. I will still need to keep using the prednisolone eye drops but will be backing off the dosage every two weeks from four, to three today forward, then two, then one drop per day from now on. In two months I return to the facility for an eye mapping and the usual tests.

For the most part I am satisfied with the corrective procedure. My goals going into this were to be able to play sports without the need for glasses or contact lenses (I have trouble with contacts because I'm in front of computers all day and it doesn't make sense to plop contacts in just for sports), to be able to function (i.e. work, eat, sleep, play) without needing glasses, and to keep my existing good close up vision intact. Using glasses for driving or other occasional circumstances was acceptable (i.e. a pair of driving auto-tinting glasses). The healing process for LASEK is slow, much slower than the LASIK procedure.

Hopefully over the next couple of weeks or so, as I decrease the prednisolone dosage and my eyes correct themselves, the vision will slowly start to sharpen and if it wants to go to 20/20 I will be doing back flips. In the meantime, I just need a little patience.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Firefox CSS fun

If you are wondering why your unordered lists seem to never work under Firefox but look just spiffy in IE and Opera, try adding -moz-padding-start: 0px; to the ul element in your style sheet. This did the trick for me. If you look at the html.css in Firefox's directory you will find all sorts of these -moz items. Nice...

Also. Does anybody know why Firefox would outline every table, div and paragraph with colored lines? I've tried completely uninstallined Firefox on Windows XP, deleting the folder, installing a fresh version downloaded and I can't seem to get rid of the lines on my main workstation at home. Grrr...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blog of the Dead

I started my Blog of the Dead this morning.

Originally, when searching for the blogger URL I grew increasingly frustrated with the number of names already taken. The blogofthedead is in use by "Blogs from the Dead" and hasn't been updated in over a year. Most of the others I looked at were in use as well. One idiot has a single "first post" blog in use, template still with the "edit me" links. Their policy on old blogs is to keep them forever (they never delete them unless they violate terms of service) and they suggested I contact the author. Guess how many mail addresses were still in use... I looked at other blog services and even considered maintaining my own blog software on a free server somewhere but did not want the hassle. My Grouchy id is on Blogger. So I simply used "blogofthedead" backwards (daedehtfogolb).

So, have a peek at the "daeD eht fo golB", err, Blog of the Dead. My only hope is that it isn't a waste of your time (well, actually if you are already here at this blog you are already wasting time, so I guess I really don't care nor should I in a logical sense).

Monday, May 15, 2006

Karma

Anybody watch the TV show "My Name is Earl"?

I was watching that show the other night and there was a sequence where penniless Earl and his brother, Randy, are trapped in the middle of a desert inside their car without fuel or a battery charge. In the morning a stranger passes by and offers $1,800 for their car. Randy tells Earl "take it Earl, you know this thing's only worth $1,500" so the stranger says "$1,500" and Randy replies "Take it Earl, we're desperate" so the stranger says "$1,200". Funny stuff.

The whole show revolves around "karma" – do good things and good things will happen to you. Do bad things and they will come back and bite you on the ass. In the show, Earl must right the wrongs he has listed on a yellow piece of paper to appease karma for taking a winning lottery ticket from him. This is only a television show, but sometimes it gets you thinking. When you are as bored as I am sometimes, thinking isn't necessarily the best thing.

As you can tell from the little menu on the side, I had LASEK surgery a little while ago. There were no major complications with the surgery; I wasn't blinded for eight days, there are no growths on my eyeballs, my eyes aren't clotted with gunk – things went okay. Things aren't perfect, though. I'm still not one of the eighty-five percent that can see 20/20 or better after laser eye surgery. My distance starts to blur after about fifteen to sixteen feet. I have an appointment in eight days and will know more but that is a lot of time in the day to accidentally slip into thought.

What effect, if any, has karma had on my LASEK surgery?

Most pieces of information I found stated 1 in 100 people have some sort of complication with laser eye surgery (within the first week). This must be good karma for something I did right either recently or throughout my life. It is now day nineteen (19) with the "new eyes" and since I am still not at 20/20 maybe the good karma I received to get through the surgery without complication is a "conditional karma" (i.e. here is some good, but you can do better – wink, wink) or maybe a "temporary karma" (here is some good karma on loan with fifteen percent interest payable ASAP).

On Friday I took a soccer ball in the face. If my eyes would have been uniform enough to have LASIK surgery, the flap could have been damaged and I could be blind in one eye. Is this good karma? I don't think so. Chances are good that if I would have had LASIK surgery I would have purchased special protective glasses and would have been wearing them when I got my face bombarded. So it wasn't good karma to push me to LASEK.

If I dissect the lack of 20/20 vision further it could mean I shouldn't be able to see things I used to be able to see with my glasses. Because of my vision I can't really talk about people behind their backs because they could be twenty feet from me and I wouldn't see them until I made some comment about their ineptness or horrifying body odor. I also cannot properly "babe spot" anymore. Some chick in the distance could be a complete package of tempting hotness but until they got close enough I would never know. They could actually be horrifying looking, or worse, illegal, or worse yet, a dude. I don't think it is karma telling me to not treat women as objects by staring at them because if that were the case my close up vision would have been fuzzy as well leaving me unable to view pictures or Internet porn.

I have received one comment about my looks without glasses. Maybe this is karma's way of nudging me out of geekdom and into a new, more attractive look? "You've suffered long enough you computer nerd, now go and stud yourself up". Then again, it could be karma's way of telling me to be myself; that no matter what I do to myself physically to change the flows I will never be perfect and will always find new or more imperfections.

Sometimes I think I think too much.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Grouchy's Gripe of the Day: Right turners

There are about 37 things I could bitch about today but this particular gripe got me this morning not once but twice. I have to make a left turn onto a busy road to escape my community and get to work. Why do people who make right turns feel the need to drive right into my field of vision, effectively blocking my ability to see oncoming traffic to my right? If you are turning right you have to see traffic coming from the left. If you are turning left you need to see traffic from both directions. In a situation where there are both left and right turning vehicles the left-turning vehicle should pull up as far as possible and the right turning vehicle should be behind that driver but up far enough to see traffic coming from their left.

It seems like this common courtesy is not taught anywhere. Folks at work didn't know it. The cute blonde who just asked me for a cigarette (I don't smoke, btw) didn't know it. This crude picture below should explain things.

In the above diagram, my car is the blue box and the blue lines represent my field of view. The red box is (and always seems to be) a full sized truck with an extended cab, raised platform, tinted windows, side and ground effects, and a pissing Calvin somewhere; the red lines are his field of view. The yellow boxes are oncoming traffic and represent 200 points for a clean hit, 150 for; oops I spoke too much. The left section of the diagram represents what happens when dumb-ass in his Canyonero pulls up to see beyond me. I can't see through his vehicle the entire time he is there waiting there. The right section represents what happens when the same dumb-ass stays just behind me; he can still see vehicles coming from the left and doesn't block my view of traffic in either direction. But wait, there's more. By hanging back you get an extra five or six feet to accelerate, providing you with more opportunities to get to where you are going.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Speaking of C'ing #'er

I become more of a toothpick artist, writing the numerous pieces of "glue" (methods) to bind the toothpicks (properties) into something useful (a class); where before I was a wood carver.

I have been teaching myself Microsoft's C# programming language off and on for a little while now using the O'Reilly book, "Programming C#" (4th edition). One of the problems I have with C# (and with Java) is they are radically different when compared to the other programming languages I know (assembler, COBOL, PL/SQL and PHP to name a few) and how you build applications (or "solutions" in the Microsoft world) with those languages.

For example:

COBOL is the most straight-forward language I know. It is also the most verbose, has minimal string handling, index rectangular array handling, and a monolithic memory structure. In the old days, back in the age of the dinosaur (mainframe), development was mostly time consuming (unless you modularized, which most smart people did) but it was simple because you were forced into specific ways of doing things. For transaction processing you used CICS with BMS, pseudo-conversational programming with temporary storage queues and/or communications areas. For batch processing you had JCL (JES or POWER/JCL) defining search paths and inputs and outputs for program executions.

PHP is the most useful language I know. PHP, however, suffers from version differences (4 versus 5, object and function), relies upon hundreds (over a thousand?) functions to accomplish basic tasks and complex tasks, has inconsistencies and "experimental" features in those functions, allows variables that are not strictly "typed", is said to "encourage bad programming techniques" (whatever that means) and has known, exploitable components that require either programming or specific setup to trap or avoid.

Now I'm learning C#. When compared to PHP, the vast and extensive function library has been replaced by the .Net 2.0 framework. The more and more I learn about C#, the more I realize that the language is only a small portion of an executable solution. As a programmer I no longer concern myself with writing code because it's already in the framework, someone has already developed a component or offers a web service for free or nominal (expensive) cost, a legacy component already exists or the code is generated for you by the Visual Studio. I become more of a toothpick artist, writing the numerous pieces of "glue" (methods) to bind the toothpicks (properties) into something useful (a class); where before I was a wood carver.

The biggest difference, however, is the object oriented world versus the linear and/or modular world. When I think of a program I think of it as a "list of instructions to accomplish a task". Even when introducing iterative and decision constructs I can still think of the program as a linear list of tasks (i.e. repeat steps five through eleven while there records available). Even with a stateless program like a CICS transaction there is the concept of a linear list of instructions, just with a different start (entry point). Object oriented programming seems backwards; you write code (or have it generated for you) to interact with objects that accomplish interdependent tasks.

I burnt out yesterday when I got to the chapter on arrays; and all of Microsoft's implementations like Queue and Dictionary. My mind was having a hard time grasping the "indexers". The String and Regular Expression pieces should be a breeze, though.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

LASEK – day thirteen

Today was supposed to be the deadline day where my vision really sharpened up. My vision is still not 20/20 and hasn't improved much since day nine or ten. I still have about two weeks before I go back for the next follow up appointment but I have a feeling I will either need touch up surgery or will have to deal with the less than perfect vision; it isn't back to where it was before glasses. Blurred vision is one of the side effects of the Prednisone corticosteroid but I the blurred vision should include close-up vision as well. My next follow-up appointment is two weeks from now, so I will know more then and they will probably take me off the Prednisone at that time. Reading success stories on the Internet reassure me a little bit because there are a number of responses where weeks and months passed before vision was sharp enough to make people happy. Of course, there is a wealth of negative opinions and horror stories. One study suggested that 1 in 3 people were unhappy with their LASIK procedures, some going back to wearing glasses or for a second procedure.

I played soccer today in the gym, which was really nice without the glasses. I can play goalkeeper without having to squint. One of the nice things about the LASEK surgery is that it doesn't have the fragile eye-flap like LASIK so I can be a little more active. I still have to be cautious about my eyes, though.

NHL playoffs and the Blue Jackets

Is there anything more exciting than the NHL playoffs? Well, there probably are things more exciting like sex on top of a speeding locomotive with a hot celebrity or getting a sky-diving massage. But for us simpler folks who like to curl up on the couch with a laptop computer and write a bunch of crap that nobody reads the NHL playoffs are a great reason to stay up late. When I look at the western conference, though, I can't help but make some observations and relate them to the future of our team here in Columbus – the Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets are in the central division with the Detroit Redwings, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues. Detroit was the best team in the NHL with 124 points (Ottawa, second, had 113) and Nashville went to the playoffs. Both the Redwings and Predators had first round exits from the playoffs. What does this say about our division?

The Blue Jackets were ranked 25th out of 30 teams in the entire NHL and 13th out of 15 teams in our conference. The two teams above us were ranked first and third in the division. There are numerous other factors to include in this but when speaking strictly statistically the Redwings and Predators benefited from playing us and the shaken Blackhawks and Blues team in complete shambles below us. The Redwings and Predators were far above the median for our division they couldn't help but look good. Of course the playoff goaltending factors into place because Nashville lost their top guy Tomas Vokoun and Manny Legace is probably hanging from a tree just south of Detroit if he didn't escape back to Ontatio. I'll expand on this later. The other two divisions in the conference set three teams to the playoffs while the central conference sent only two. Every team in the other two divisions performed better statistically than the average (except Phoenix) and the median for our division.

Playoffs in our future?

To look at our chances at making the playoffs we have to determine our likelihood of making it into one of the trailing spots; the top eight teams (realistically) in the conference go to the playoffs. First, let's subtract the "gimme" teams; i.e. teams that are expected to always be in the playoffs. Dedicate 4 of the 8 slots to Detroit, Dallas, Calgary and Colorado assuming that none of these teams will do a "St. Louis" (even if Detroit goes through a massive restructuring). This means the Blue Jackets will need to do statistically better than three more teams to make the playoffs. The pool of teams will probably hinder our goal consists of Nashville, San Jose, Anaheim and probably Edmonton. So how do we do this?

First, we have to build a team that will get us into the pool fighting for the bottom four playoff slots (assuming the goal is to make the playoffs, not win them at the moment). That means our team will have to be good enough to beat the teams in that same pool and definitely beat the teams fighting like we are to get into that pool. The Blue Jackets should have enough returning players, new faces and perhaps one good signing to make them competitive enough for a run at the playoffs. Second, we have to win those games against those teams which includes learning to win on the road and not going into these stupid slumps where we go on losing streaks. Personally, I think the Blue Jackets should be in the playoffs next season and if they aren't there is reason to be disappointed. However, I do not believe the Blue Jackets will make it far in the playoffs if they do make it.

The main reason why I don't think the Blue Jackets will go far in the playoffs is "playoff" goaltending. Three of the four teams exiting the first round had goaltender issues (although Legace and Turco issues could be debated over and over again in blog after blog). Both Marc Denis and Pascal Leclaire perform well in goal and work well in our organization but both went through periods of softness in the 2005/2006 season and I firmly believe they will need playoff experience to carry the Blue Jackets into further rounds. Our first forward line is strong but not without weakness. Fedorov is the anchor in that line but both Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev are young talents that need another season or two of experience to be well rounded enough to go against the top lines of opposing playoff teams. Our second and third lines will probably change next season so they will need to be up to the task to pick up the slack and make the difference. The defensive core was probably the best feature of the 2005/2006 Blue Jackets team. Bryan Berard should be returning and Ron Hainsey, Aaron Johnson, Rostislav Klesla, Radoslav Suchy and Duvie Westcott picked up their games this season and should continue good play through next season.

Wings go home

I was happy to see Detroit go marching into the playoffs as the top team in the NHL only to come crawling home beaten by the "lowly" Oilers. I don't think it was because my girlfriend comes from Michigan or the fact that the Redwings are a hockey dynasty every team should aspire to be. I think it was because I don't like Redwings fans and I'm glad they got pissed on. Ha ha – neener neener. I was like when the Redwings beat Ron Tugnutt with a perfect shot on a questionable 4-on-3 power play in overtime to win one to nothing. As soon as the red light was on the Redwings fans were in our faces talking trash. Some of those fans got a beat-down after the game but I remember thinking: "you're happy about an overtime one to zero win over an expansion team?" This was before salary alignment and the strike and all that fun stuff, so the Redwings with their money and power should be beating a team like the Blue Jackets. In fact, they should be pounding the high holy crap out of us with their backup goalie in and numerous call-ups from the Toledo Storm (which might be another reason why I don't like Detroit; as a Columbus Chill fan I despised those inferior Detroit clones).

Monday, May 08, 2006

LASEK – day twelve

Played hockey for the first time today since the surgery. The freedom to be active without the hassle of glasses was refreshing.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

LASEK – day ten

Today I dropped the Vigamox drops and reduced the Econopred to one drop four times per day.

Friday, May 05, 2006

LASEK – day nine

My vision still is not 20/20. My sharpness is about twelve to twenty feet in front of me before it starts to blur. This really sucks because I can't recognize people where I work until I'm really close to them. It also means I can't do a lot of babe-spotting (what a bummer). My close up vision if good enough to go back to the 1600x1280 resolution on my monitor.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

LASEK – day eight

My close up vision is about 98 percent of what it used to be (razor sharp). There is small bit of blurriness.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

LASEK – day six

Finally I got those contact lenses out of my eyes. What a relief. My close up and distance vision wasn't the best but the OD said this was normal and it would take at least a week before things start clearing up.

I was going to go into work for a half-day but my close-up vision was just not good enough to make four hours of work worth the gas and time; so I stayed home and rested.

Installing Tomcat with JRockit

If you can't seem to get Apache Tomcat to install on Windows using BEA's Jrockit Java virtual machine do this:
  • In the JDK's jre\bin folder there is another folder called jrockit; make a copy of that folder and call it "server" just for simplicity sake
  • Point the Tomcat installer to the JDK folder (not bin).
Note; this is just to get it installed – I haven't tried running it yet.

I couldn't find this information anywhere else on the Internet and found the answer in the Tomcat mailing list explaining the changes and actually looking through the install script (I think). If they simply added the directory /jrockit to the list of folders they check for jvm.dll there wouldn't be a problem.

Monday, May 01, 2006

LASEK – day five

My close up vision is starting to return just a little. I read my electronic mail at work from my laptop (easiest to read).